CAPE TOWN, November 1 – The anti-gang unit swept courtroom 16 at the Cape Town Magistrate’s Court on Thursday ahead of the appearance of two suspects accused of murdering top criminal defence lawyer Pete Mihalik.
Journalists were kept at bay until the court was given the all clear by heavily armed police officers.
Sizwe Biyela, 26, and Nkosinathi Khumalo, 31, made a brief appearance and were hastily ushered back to court cells before proceedings were adjourned.
The duo face charges of murder, attempted murder, as well as the unlawful possession of a firearm and ammunition.
They were arrested on Tuesday shortly after the murder of Mihalik, 50, who was shot in the head at point-blank range as he dropped his children off at their private school Reddam House in Green Point.
Mihalik’s son, 8, was wounded and is recovering at a private hospital. He reportedly has a bullet lodged in his jaw. Mihalik’s teenage daughter, who was in the backseat of Mihalik’s Mercedes-Benz, was not injured.
The gunman fired two shots through the driver’s window.
The state alleged that the murder was premeditated and asked the court to place the two suspects in custody at the Sea Point police cells as there was a reason to believe they may “come to harm” if kept at Pollsmoor prison.
State prosecutor Helena Booysen said the two men were from Kwazulu-Natal and one of them had been out on bail for another serious offence.
Magistrate Greg Jacobs recommended they apply for legal aid as the “very serious matter” would in all likelihood be transferred to the high court.
Biyela opted for legal aid. Khumalo indicated his intention to hire a lawyer but said he had been unable to do so. The magistrate granted him time to do so.
Both men spoke through an interpreter and the magistrate postponed the case to 8 November.
In the charge sheet, the state alleged that the accused intentionally killed Mahalik by shooting him in the head with a firearm and that the offence “was committed by a person, group of persons or syndicate acting in the execution or furtherance of a common purpose or conspiracy”.
In the attempted murder charge, the state alleged that the accused intentionally attempted to kill Mihalik’s son by “shooting him in the face/head with a firearm and thereby inflicting serious and potentially life-threatening injuries”.
The third and fourth charges relate to the accused’s alleged possession of a 9mm unlicensed firearm and ammunition.
Mihalik, the go-to lawyer for underworld figures, lost his wife, who was suffering from depression to suicide three years ago.